Tuesday, January 8, 2013

REVIEW: Captain Action Deluxe Figure

Produced by Round 2/CA Enterprises | Released 2012

Who is Captain Action?

A master of disguise, a superspy out to save a world that doesn't know it need saving!

Former leader of the ACTION Directorate, a covert government agency that fought an alien infestation known as the Red Crawl for decades. The alien threat was thought long vanquished, so no one notices when Earth is finally conquered: government leaders are clandestinely infected by mind-controlling alien nanotechnology and Earth is secretly and gradually brought under control of an alien presence.

The one man who discovers the insidious infiltration, the one man with the skills and knowledge to defeat the alien presence. With access to the ACTION Directorate's high technology - including advance, experimental energy sources and holo-technology - Captain Action sets out to expose the evil, otherworldly infestation and bring it to justice.

OK... But Who Is Captain Action?
In the ''real world'' of toy collecting, Captain Action was the brainchild of GI Joe creator Stan Weston. Inspired by his success with his military-themed action figure but seeing a shift in buyer tastes from war toys to superheroes, Weston came up with the concept of Captain Action, an action figure that could, by switching into new each-sold-separately costumes, transform into some of the world's most popular heroes. With the ability to become Superman, Spider-Man, Flash Gordon, The Lone Ranger and many other characters, it was no surprise that Captain Action was a huge hit, spawning a series of costumes, vehicles and playsets and even a sidekick. But sadly as the popularity of superheroes faded, so too did the Captain's appeal and within just two and a half years of being introduced, the line was discontinued.

But like all good heroes, Captain Action lived on in the memory of his fans and in the late 90s he returned - albeit briefly - in a line of new figures and costume sets created by Playing Mantis. Although the company was able to license such classic Captain Action-allies as the Lone Ranger and Flash Gordon with out the ''big hitters'' of DC or Marvel the line failed to find a market and so it seemed the good Captain was doomed once more to return to the shadows.

2005 saw Captain Action Enterprises formed from the ashes of this previous relaunch, with Playing Mantis collaborator Joe Ahearn teaming up with fellow fan Ed Catto and legal eagle Michael Haviland to resurrect the brand, which brings us to today (or more specifically, 2012) when CA Enterprises and Round 2 released the subject of today's Review, the Captain Action Deluxe Figure.

The Deluxe Figure features Captain Action displayed in a plastic blister pack, with a gatefold-style flap to the left.

Open the flap and you'll see the Captain's accessories along with the extra goodies that are packaged exclusively with the Deluxe Figure. We'll come back to them in our Extras and Accessories section below but for now, as you can see, there's certainly a decent array of items within and each is held securely in place thanks to the restraining tray within.

What's particularly cool is that the left-hand section can be removed and assembled to form a reproduction of the original Captain Action packaging, complete with photo cover (visible through the rear of the modern, outer packaging.)

Although I did find the right-hand side of the packaging a little flimsy (I'd hate to see what happened if it were crushed under any sort of weight) there's a real sense of smart design about how it's all put together, with the pieces slotting very neatly into place.

So first impressions are good but what happens when we take the Captain out of his box?

Sculpt & Design
The new Captain Action is based upon the original's design. To post-Star Wars sci-fi fans Captain Action may appear a little quaint (or even dare I say it, silly) but anybody who grew up reading 60s adventure comics or watching Gerry Anderson shows will immediately ''get'' the Captain's look.

I'm pleased to see CA Enterprises/Round 2 elected to keep the original figure's styling. It would have been easy - and wrong - to try and modernize the character to make him more appealing to a younger audience so it's great to see he's retained his trunks-and-cap design, however retro that may look. From what I gather, his face/head sculpt has been modified somewhat (the images of the original show him sporting a rather worried look) and I'm sure there have been some other minor ''technical'' fixes but these have done little to dampen the fantastically retro look of the figure.

As you can probably see from the images, Captain Action's proportions are, shall we say, ''stylized.'' I'm guessing this is in homage to the original, which also appeared to sport a slightly shorter torso and longer arms than we're used to seeing. The fact that his belt sits quite high on his waist also gives an impression of him being a little oddly proportioned, but at the same time the entire look has a kind of nostalgic charm to it - which I suspect was the intention.

The musculature beneath the costume is very well defined (and the skintight one-piece does a great job showing it off) and the joints - which we'll come back to later - are neatly incorporated to help accentuate the figure's build. There's a real sense of Captain Action being a powerful, in-shape guy and it's a credit to the sculptors that the figure - slightly odd proportions aside - looks so lifelike.

The head sculpt is particularly cool. Beneath the removable cap Captain Action sports a neat side-parted hairstyle with neatly-trimmed sideburns, both of which are very in-keeping with his 60s origins. Although not  based on any particular actor I get a sense of Captain Action being modeled after James Bond (which would make sense given he's a spy.) The facial expression is especially neat and is one of those looks that seems to change just with a tilt of the head or a different pose, covering everything from amused smirk to grim-set determination.

So he may look good, but how does he move?

Captain Action's articulation set-up is, as you'd expect from a 1:6 scale figure, very good. There are some minor flaws but we'll come back to those in a second.

Here's a quick breakdown of how he's rigged: ball-jointed neck, ball-jointed shoulders, rotational upper-arms, double-jointed elbows, rotational wrists (with tilt), rotating/tilting mid-torso, rotate and tilt waist, ball-jointed hips, double-jointed knees and rotate and tilt-knees. Phew! As you can imagine, such a set-up allows for a wide range of movement and poses, way more than I was able to capture during my photo session (for those wondering why there are so few full-body shots, my camera's auto-focus had problems in both regular and Macro mode thanks to the Captain's scale and most wound-up being fuzzy or blurred.)

I mentioned some minor problems, so I'll address them now. My Captain Action's neck joint seems a little looser than it should be and his torso joints are overly-stiff. I found it difficult to pose him with much of a waist twist because the figure kept ''pinging'' back into position. It almost felt like some kind of Super Thunder Punch! play feature but I think it's simply that my Captain Action's torso joints are just rigged too tightly. But with that said I don't want to overwork them for fear of them becoming loose. Keep in mind however that this is something that could be particular to my figure only and that the remainder of his joints work just fine.

One thing that's also worth mentioning if we're talking about articulation is the fact that Captain Action's ''gripping'' hands are cast from a flexible-but-firm rubbery plastic, meaning they can not only hold his accessories but can also be ''posed'' in a way not seen with more rigid casts, such as the ''two hands, one gun'' grip seen above. It's a minor point but certainly a welcome addition.

Captain Action's paintwork is primarily centered around the head and face app. And on the whole it's very neatly done, with his hairline and lips being of particular note. My Captain Action's left eye is marginally misaligned but it's only really something you'd notice if you were looking for it. As most of his accessories also feature paint apps we'll move swiftly on to his arsenal and take a closer look at the equipment the Captain employs.

Extras & Accessories
The Deluxe Figure Captain Action features all the accessories found with the basic figure, plus a few extras. 

We'll start with his costume pieces, chief of which is his jumpsuit. The one-piece costume is a snug fit and features a Velcro-sealed seam along the back, allowing it to be removed with relative ease. The piece itself is nicely finished, with neat stitching and the Captain Action logo adorning his chest appears to be some form of transfer. I'm not sure what the costume is made from but it does little to inhibit movement and fits the figure well, something that also applies to his semi-rigid cap, which can be popped off with ease yet remains in place even when the figure is turned upside down.

Captain Action's boots are cast from a similarly flexible, rubbery plastic and although they're - again - designed to be removed without too much trouble their slight ''looseness'' can make it occasionally difficult to get the figure to stand in certain poses. It's also a shame they so mask the ankle articulation but at the same time I can completely understand why they're designed in this way.

The Captain's utility belt is a particular favorite piece of mine. Although it sports a simple double-pinned buckle it fits - and remains clasped - perfectly. The accessory pieces that then slot into the belt - his sword sheath and holster - are again snug-but-secure additions and the holo-comm (as seen in his hand above) features a back-mounted bracket that allows it to slot into his belt, where it will remain until removed by hand.

The weapons themselves fit neatly into their respective storage slots (although the sword may take a little jiggling to slide home, as it's a tight fit) and I especially like the retro-styling of these weapons, with Captain Action sporting a proper old school ray gun and a ''lightening sword'' that Flash Gordon would be proud of. These weapons fit as neatly into his hands as they do into the belt.

Speaking of hands, the figure also comes with interchangeable ''fist'' hands. Simply pull the Captain's existing ''gripping'' hands free and then it's just a matter of popping on the new hands. Be warned though that this isn't quite as simple as it sounds due to the slightness of the wrist peg, although I suspect this piece isn't as fragile as it first appears to be.

The Deluxe Figure also includes a mission dossier containing photographs of Captain Action's nemesis, Dr Evil (who we'll be looking at soon), maps, documents and more, all in a very cool little binder, plus a roll-out blueprint of the Captain's Holo-Comm.

Final Thoughts
It's a rare treat to find a toy created with such love and attention as the Captain Action Deluxe Figure. From the way the packaging is presented to the figure's sculpt, to the micro-detail accessories and the way everything just works together so well, it's clear that this toy is the result of passion, of somebody wanting to recreate the toy they loved as a child and bring that love to a new generation. You get a real sense of the passion and drive behind bringing back Captain Action, not just as a money-making brand but as something collectors will appreciate and that kids will treasure. The attention to detail and care that have gone into making Captain Action shine through and you truly get a feeling that this toy is special, almost magical.

I have to admit that I never owned a Captain Action, as production of the line ceased before I was born. Yet despite that I still feel as if this is a toy I owned as a child. Perhaps it reminds me of my old Action Men or even Denys Fisher Cyborg figures. Perhaps through a process of reading old comics I subconsciously became familiar with the character and always yearned to own a Captain Action. Maybe he reminds me of Stingray's Troy Tempest. Or it could simply be that I just really dig the retro sci-fi superspy vibe that's so central to the figure. Whatever the reason, as you may have gathered, I love this figure.

Yes, he has a couple of flaws. The proportions aren't quite anatomically correct, whether through design or mistake. My Captain Action's torso is too stiff. The oversized boots can make getting him to stand a little awkward. But at the end of the day these tiny missteps are vastly outweighed by what's right here. And when something is not only done right but also done with love, care and attention then it's something that's more than worthy of praise.

And yes, as you've probably noticed, my Captain Action doesn't have any of the alternate costumes. But that's also part of what I like about the figure. Having the ability to turn him into Captain America or Spider-Man is great (and I really like that the Marvel costumes are all modeled on the contemporary versions of the characters) but I also really dig Captain Action as a character in his own right and with this figure Round 2/CA Enterprises have included enough accessories and details to allow Captain Action to stand on his own two feet as, well, Captain Action.

Captain Action is one of those rare pieces that works both as a toy and a collector piece. Give him to your son or nephew and you'll have no worries about him being returned intact, at which point you can place him back in your display case, where he's sure to attract a lot of attention.


Final Score: A

Image Gallery


  1. Great review Kev! And am glad to see that you finally got one of these. : )

    1. Yeah, I also have his nemesis Dr Evil lined-up for Review but given just how much there is to cover (as you can see, the above is pretty long) it'll take me a while to get that done!

    2. Looking forward to the review on that one too. : )

    3. It's going to take a while to compile the Review and get all the photos sorted, as there's a lot to look at!

  2. Hello, I enjoyed your review on the Captain. I purchased two of these items last month, they need a little improvement in some areas, yet I think they are great.

    1. Thanks. Glad you enjoyed it. Yeah, there are a few minor issues - mostly with quality control it seems - with both Captain Action and Dr Evil but when the overall style, design and production is as high and the pure LOVE of the line shines through as it does in these toys, it's easy to ignore those minor quibbles.


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